Neuropharmacology & Addiction

The goal of research in this focus area is to conduct basic research on mechanisms of how drugs of abuse, particularly alcohol, produce their rewarding and behavioral effects through changes in brain function at multiple levels of analysis:  molecular, cellular, circuit, systems, neurochemical, and behavioral.  By producing fundamental new knowledge on these mechanisms, new and improved therapies could be developed for addiction and other brain diseases.  In addition, the faculty in this area are committed to recruiting, training, and retaining the next generation of diverse researchers in neuropharmacology and addiction.

Group Leader

Dr. Kimberly Nixon headshot photo

Kimberly Nixon, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
James T. Doluisio Centennial Fellow
Dr. Nixon’s lab utilizes novel approaches to understand the causes and consequences of alcohol neuropathology, focused primarily on adult neural stem cells and their contribution to alcohol-induced damage and recovery from alcohol use disorders (alcoholism), as well as the role microglia play in the development of AUDs in adolescence.

Faculty Participants: College of Pharmacy

Duvauchelle, Christine L., Ph.D.

Duvauchelle is exploring neural mechanisms of reward using behavioral, pharmacological, neurochemical & immunological methodologies.

Gore, Andrea C., Ph.D

Studies neuroendocrine control of reproduction and sex differences in the brain during development and aging.

Marinelli, Michela, Ph.D.

Marinelli’s lab focuses on understanding the biological bases of addiction. The lab uses a systems-approach, combining complementary levels of analysis, which include molecular, cellular, anatomical, and behavioral studies.

Messing, Robert O., M.D.

Messing’s research is focused on disturbances in signal transduction that contribute to addiction, emotional disorders, and pain, with the goal of identifying new treatments.

Mukhopadhyay, Somshuvra, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.

A major goal of Mukhopadhyay’s research is to understand how gene-environment interactions alter neuronal physiology to induce parkinsonian disorders.

Faculty Participants: College of Natural Sciences

Dominguez, Juan M., Ph.D.

Research is focused on the investigation of the the neural-endocrine regulation of motivated behaviors; using mating behavior as a prototypic model to better understand motivation and its associated disorders, especially the neuroendocrinological factors that regulate depression and addiction.

Harris, R. Adron, Ph.D.

Harris’ laboratory is investigating structure and function of ion channels with emphasis on molecular mechanisms responsible for alcohol and drug actions.

Mihic, S. John, Ph.D.

Mihics’ laboratory is focused on characterizing the molecular mechanisms through which alcohol, inhaled solvents, sedatives and anaesthetics act on ligand-activated ion channels.

Morikawa, Hitoshi, M.D., Ph.D.

Research focuses on synaptic plasticity and neuroadaptations involved in reward-based conditioning and the development of drug addiction and alcoholism.